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PLANETS was set up in 2011 by Consultant Surgeon Neil Pearce, Interventional Radiologist Brian Stedman and NET patient Layla Stephen.  Neil Pearce was the lead consultant surgeon for the regional pancreas, liver and neuroendocrine tumour service based in Southampton from 2005 to 2013 before he was diagnosed with a progressive form of Multiple Sclerosis which cut short his surgical career (he has since taken on the role of Associate Medical Director at University Hospital Southampton).  During his surgical career he was a pioneer of new treatments and championed the cross disciplinary approach to tackling advanced cancer, using all the different modalities of treatment available available.  Neil saw the need for PLANETS to offer support for patients on these complex journeys and help provide innovative cancer treatments many years sooner than the existing NHS mechanisms could allow.

Although many individual patients with NET have been treated in Southampton over the last few decades, it is only since 2005 that a true multi-disciplinary approach has been applied to this disease, with the creation of a team of dedicated professionals covering all the specialist requirements of the management of NET patients.

The team developed from a small core of specialists working with liver and pancreatic cancers who started to focus their attentions on the sub group of patients with NET. The medical team were inspired to do this by a few outstanding successes for unconventional treatment approaches that we adopted in patients with seemingly very advanced disease (8 years later our first group of patients are all still alive).

Over the same timescale that the NET team has developed, Southampton has become the principal centre for liver and pancreatic cancer treatment in the South outside London, with a catchment population of 3.5 million and 250 major resections are carried out for these cancers each year.



Appointment of first consultant surgeon with interest in NET

First multi-visceral pancreatic resection for primary NET


Appointment of interventional radiologist with interest in NET.

Formation of informal monthly NET meeting between endocrinologists, surgeons, nurse specialist and radiologists to discuss scans and treatment plans


First laparoscopic liver resection for NET

Regional pancreatic centralisation to Southampton drastically increasing referral rates for NET to Southampton


Development of multi-modality treatment concept for primary and secondary NET

First monthly, multi-disciplinary, NET clinic, involving physicians and surgeons

Appointment of laparoscopic colorectal surgeon with interest in NET


Development of multi-modality treatment concept for primary and secondary NET


First monthly, multi-disciplinary, NET clinic, involving physicians and surgeons

Appointment of laparoscopic colorectal surgeon with interest in NET


Multidisciplinary meeting and clinic increased in frequency to fortnightly to cope with increased demand


Opening of the Southampton NET Tumour bank

First international Fellow in NET / HPB Surgery

Appointment of a third consultant surgeon with NET specialisation

PLANETS charity formed incorporating treatment and research for Pancreatic Liver and NET Cancers.


1st December – PLANETS website goes live

PLANETS patient support group is formed

PLANETS NET nurse specialist appointed


PLANETS Charity surpassed it’s target of £100,000 reaching £121,000 by the end of 2012

New ultrasound scanner is purchased with PLANETS funds (subsidised by the NHS)


PLANETS Charity reached it’s target of £200,000 by the end of 2013

Purchase of a shielded box to assist with our nuclear medicine treatments.

Purchase of a laparoscopic slave stack for theatre 7 giving us a second equipment stack on the opposite side of the patient so that when operating, the surgeon and team can switch sides of the patient easily, improving ergonomics and saving time.

Patient becomes the first Southampton patient to receive PRRT (peptide receptor radionuclide therapy). The equipment for this treatment was jointly funded by UHS and PLANETS.


PLANETS Charity target of £300,000 by the end of 2014 is exceeded.

Outpatient seating is updated to improve patient experience.

PLANETS continued to fund their tumour banks and were able to employ a full-time lab based researcher for preliminary analysis into genetic sequencing (relating to the tumour bank).


PLANETS were able to start funding Jo Tod’s research program in combination with Pancreatic Cancer UK. Preliminary experiments on the genetic make up of the many different tumours in our tumour bank were commenced.

The contracts for a 30 month lease of the IORT (Intra Operative Radiotherapy) machine were completed with a view to start treating patients in 2016.

PLANETS were awarded the Southampton Hospital Charity Star at the Hospital Heroes Awards.


PLANETS announce that the bid by the Southampton, Bournemouth and Portsmouth teams to become an ENETS accredited European centre of excellence was successful making the ‘Wessex NET Group’ one of 25 centres across the whole of Europe who have achieved this level of recognition.

IORT arrives at Southampton and the testing phase begins.

Patient support groups begin in Bournemouth and Portsmouth (in addition to the already established Southampton group)


A Southampton bowel cancer patient becomes the first in the UK to receive radiotherapy during surgery using the IORT machine that PLANETS has funded. PLANETS expanded their aims to include support and treatment for Oesophageal, Stomach and Colorectal cancers moving forward.


TargetNET, a research study that investigates the molecular, immunological and genetic features associated with neuroendocrine tumour dissemination, progression and response to treatment. Funding is through research grants held by the investigators, in particular the Southampton NIHR Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre funded by Cancer Research UK and the UK Department of Health, PLANETS and the Robert White fund.


PLANETS hosted the 1st National IORT (intra-operative radiotherapy) Symposium to present the fantastic work and great initial results to medics from all over the country. 56 patients had been treated to date for pancreatic, colorectal, rectal, anal, endometrial retroperitoneal, head and neck, bladder and gastric cancers.

HIPEC is introduced at UHS, funded by PLANETS. A treatment not routinely available in the UK and mostly used in bowel and ovarian cancers and in carefully selected patients with more uncommon cancers such as neuroendocrine cancers, research suggests that this treatment may more than double the odds of survival for affected patients in some situations.


The IORT machine, funded by PLANETS is used to benefit patients as University Hospital Southampton cancer services continue to function at 90% despite the COVID 19 pandemic.

PLANETS introduce online patient groups and conferences to continue their patient support offering.


PLANETS continue their online patient support information days and conferences.

A generous legacy allows the charity to pay off the lease purchase of the IORT machine, securing it’s future for the rest of it’s life span at University Hospital Southampton.

The Wessex NET Group, supported by PLANETS Charity, secures European Centre of Excellence for a further 5 years.

How is the money raised spent?

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